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ROME..Trip report with emphasis on food..January 2007

ROME..Trip report with emphasis on food..January 2007

Old Jan 23rd, 2007, 12:44 PM
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Franco:

Sorry, I just returned to this thread after a few days and just now saw your note to me.

Our meal at Sora Lella was excellent. I'll have to get out my notes and give you details, but I remember I had the menù degustazione and it was divine.

We also ate amazingly well at some little out-of-the-way places in Umbria. If i ever get around to it, I'll post a trip report and my pix (which include photos of just about every plate of food we ordered).
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Old Jan 23rd, 2007, 02:33 PM
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A few days before departing the US, I e-mailed the Senato and asked them to book a table for me for Tuesday night at Trattoria Monti. This restaurant, owned by a family from Le Marche, specializes in the food of that region and has gotten much publicity over the years as an off-the-beaten track find with a great price-value ratio. Given the recent articles in the US press about it, I was a little worried that it has devolved into a tourist "scene."

We easily found a taxi right outside the hotel (there was often one cab waiting there although the stand is across the piazza). As soon as I told the driver the street, Via San Vito, he asked me if this was near Santa Maria Maggiore. Of course I did not know and had to fumble for my map (Note: I would recommend carrying a map even if you will only be venturing out by taxi for a meal). Yes, it was near the basilica (and in fact, the mosaics are lit at night and you can view them from the street) so off we drove. We had a bit of confusion finding the street but in due time, entered the trattoria and my hesitancy was quickly dispelled. Since it was only 8pm, the place was almost empty. This situation would quickly change and throughout the night, group after group of hopeful diners (virtually all Italian) would peek in and request a table, only to be turned away. One (non-Italian) woman protested upon hearing this unwelcome news, "But we took a taxi all the way here!!!" Well, I have news for you, lady. Next time, before you hop into a taxi and trek across a few neighborhoods, you might think of calling the restaurant first to reserve a table.

The restaurant is comprised of two adjoining pastel-walled rooms. Lighting is very good and contemporary art adorns the walls. Tables wear white starched cloths and the overall air is more upscale than the "typical" Roman trattoria. {Of course the food here is, as I wrote, not Roman but from Le Marche.}

The welcome here was very warm and the food was, with one exception, superb. I have to take a short break now (dinner tonight will fall far short, I fear!!) and will come back with details of the meal......

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Old Jan 24th, 2007, 04:24 AM
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This was our meal at Trattoria Monti, Via San Vito,
13/a:

(please excuse the spelling errors, especially in the Italian):

Flan de Cipolle Rosse con Crema di Gorgonzola.
"Wow!" is the note scribbled on my little writing pad. I read somewhere that the chef uses a particular type of red onion for this dish. A perfect example of taking a few simple ingredients and creating something the far exceeds the sum of its parts. This was a mound of beautifully browned onions with a slight char that had been pressed into a flan dish, extracted, and set in a pool of light sauce with a Gorgonzola base. One of the best dishes of the week. Prize to anyone who can provide a recipe for a similar dish. Thanks to anyone who can tell me the origin of this type of dish..(Franco?? Eloise??)

Tagliatelle with porcini. This long pasta dish was disappointing and I am not sure why; lack of salt, perhaps. It tasted flat to me. The mushrooms were dried and I think these are best used not as a main feature of a dish but as a compliment for flavoring.

Special of rigatoni with tomato and broccoli sauce. Wonderful. The broccoli florets were chopped into tiny pieces and incorporated into the tomato sauce long enough to be fully cooked and lose their bright color. Lovely.

Eggplant parmesan. There are a lot of vegetable dishes on the menu so we figured that this might be a good choice and it was. One of the best renditions I've ever had. Individual portion served in a gratin dish with a wonderful char on top; they must have passed it through the broiler at the end. Wonderful.

Dessert, shared: Special of Amaretto ice cream slathered with dark chocolate sauce. I am still salivating when I think of this dish. And THAT would be my signature gelato combination for the rest of the week: Amaretti with chocolate.

Carafe of house Verdicchio (DOC) from Le Marche.

With water, cover/bread....54 Euro.

Even with the slip on the pasta, an excellent meal.

By the time we left, the place was packed to the rafters; I think there was one table of tourists and the rest of the diners appeared to be Italians.

We walked towards the taxi stand a few blocks away, passing the famous Agata e Romeo Restaurant and, outside a nondescript apartment building, this was scribbled in large letters in chalk on the sidewalk, facing the building so that the person who exited the door would see it at their feet:

Buon giorno principessa,
Si mi doni il tuo cuore,
Ti daro il mondo.

Well, I just thought that was THE most romantic thing I'd seen in a long time. With apologies for my erros in transciption and translation, it reads:

Good morning, princess
if you give me your heart,
I will give you the world.

With that thought, we popped into a taxi and sped back to the hotel.

Tomorrow..day trip to Orvieto.

{Regarding Orvieto. We did not book train tickets in advance since we did not want to be tied to a schedule. Late that afternoon, I had walked to Pantheon Travel, located a block from the hotel right off the Piazza della Minerva, and booked the tickets on the train next morning at 8:55. We booked one-way tickets, as the agent assured us we could buy the return with no problem at the Orvieto station and thus have flexibility on the time of return to Rome.
I learned that if you have tickets on an IC train and you miss the train, you can use your tickets on the next Ic or regional train; you only have to re-pay the 3 Euro reservation fee for the IC (Intercity; one of three types of Italian trains) train}

To be continued soon........







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Old Jan 24th, 2007, 04:47 AM
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What an enjoyable trip report. Thanks so much for taking the time and effort. There are so many wonderful restaraunt and shopping tips that I am just going to print it out and take it with me in June. Ciao for now!
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Old Jan 24th, 2007, 05:57 AM
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ekscrunchy,

After five days of great meals in a number of cities, my traveling companion sat back from his Red Onion Flan at Trattoria Monti and said, awestruck, "This is the best thing I've had all week!"

So many good, interesting choices on that menu--still it's hard not to order the onion flan each time . . .
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Old Jan 24th, 2007, 06:03 AM
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So next time I'm there I'll know what to order as a first course.
I still remember that fabulous mango dessert I had there back in October. I can't really describe it, it was just divine fruit plus sauce and maybe cream? Wonderful place.
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Old Jan 24th, 2007, 08:51 AM
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Thanks everyone. Ellen..I have to agree. I think it just might have been the best dish I ate all week and that is saying a lot.

Before I begin my small report on our time in Orvieto, here is a new book set in that town; I just noticed it in the bookstore but did not have time to really take a good look:


http://www.amazon.com/Lady-Palazzo-A...F8&s=books

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Old Jan 24th, 2007, 08:55 AM
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Thank you so much for this fabulous report!

Now I will have to make time to enjoy some of your suggestions as well as my personal list of favorites this fall!


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Old Jan 24th, 2007, 09:30 AM
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Yes, the report is wonderful and Yes, I love all the food facts, but I am blown away by the inscription on the sidewalk to "Principessa". So romantic!

Good job, eks!
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Old Jan 24th, 2007, 09:58 AM
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Thank you for posting this fabulous and delicious report.

We use the same shuttle service and the drivers picking us up have taken the time to bring us to the keyhole or stop for photos. They are very kind and excellent drivers.

Ditirambo is one of our favorites, as is Settimios, just north of the Piazza Rotunda. For some reason we haven't tried Armando but have passed it many times.
Next trip we certainly will.

I'm taking notes about your other recommendations. We have referred to Maureen Fant's book in the past and now will add your list and comments.

The Farmacia branch in Rome is more expensive than the one in Florence. According to the woman helping us in Rome, it is the cost of "shipping" it to Rome that increases it.
This, however, certainly wouldn't account for the increase you experienced.

And the Borghese is still my favorite. We have been there 6 or 7 times because a trip to Rome doesn't seem complete without a visit to Bernini's masterpieces.

Oh, and thanks for the link to the porcini!

Looking forward to more.
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Old Jan 24th, 2007, 04:20 PM
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Thanks to you both. Iloveitaly, that is most inteeresting about the SMN pricing. I was so thrilled to be in the store that I did not pay all that much attention to the prices until after the deed was done; of course a shopper's oblivion is aided by the fact that no prices are posted either on the products or on the product list available at the store. (At least I got some $$ back from the de-taxe) Almost double in one year from the Florence prices to the ones in Rome for the Idralia face cream. Hmmm.

I also like the Fant book although I always double check her recommendations with other sources. I used Sandra Gustafson on previous trips but do not really look at her book anymore although some of her recommendations are spot on...even after all this time.
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Old Jan 26th, 2007, 03:51 AM
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Wednesday morning we took at taxi to Termini Station in time for the 8:55 train to Orvieto. The station is large but well laid out and easy to navigate. The price of the tickets, Rome-Orvieto, was 15 euro purchased at Pantheon Travel; Orvieto-Rome was 13 euro (2nd class) purchased on the spot at the Orvieto station. For the extra 2 euro it was well worth buying the outgoing tickets at the agency in order to avoid the long lines at the Termini ticket counters.

When we left Rome it was clear and sunny and it was interesting (and discouraging!) to see the climate change only a few minutes out of Rome. The train took a bit over an hour; regional trains (this was an IC train) take longer. It was overcast in Orvieto and colder than in Rome.

We arrived at Orvieto station and took the cable car up the cliff to the town. From there, a bus make the circuit to the main square of the historic center of Orvieto, stopping outside the Duomo. The cable car ticket includes the bus. The tourist office faces the Duomo and this was our first stop for a map and inquiries about which restaurants from my list were open that Wednesday. We were relieved to find that SlowFood (and Faith Willinger (Eating in Italy)) pick Trattoria dell' Orso was, indeed open. The tourist office is the place to buy tickets for the Duomo's San Brizio chapel and its delicious Renaissance frescoes. (The Duomo is free; the chapel requires a special ticket not sold on site)

It was well worth the train trip to see the amazing striped Duomo and the chapel; we spent some awed minutes here before heading out and into the heart of the town. Orvieto is much smaller than I had envisioned. Therre are quite a few pottery shops along the main street. Exiting the Duomo facing you off to the right a bit is a shop with very lovely hand-painted ceramics; we spent some time chatting with the daughter (in law?) of the owner-craftsman and were tempted but declined to buy in the end.

We wandered around for an hour or so before heading for the Osteria dell' Orso, located on a small street running off the Piazza della Repubblica.

back in time for lunch...
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Old Jan 26th, 2007, 04:35 AM
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Trattoria dell'Orso is exactly the kind of restaurant I was looking for way back then. (See related post, which veers off slightly from its original line of questioning...)

http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...p;tid=34895007

This trattoria, tucked into a small lane running off the Piazza della Repubblica, Via della Misericordia, 18-20. (phone. 0763-341642; closed Monday and Tuesday), consists of two deeply hued rooms adorned with interesting art. The restaurant is a labor of love for Gabriele, who does the cooking, and Ciro at the front of the house. We were the first diners inside that January day and were greeted enthusiastically by Ciro. He speaks some English. I don't recall a printed menu. We decided to put ourselves sinto his hands and were pleased with the results on the table. In between attending to the table, Ciro sat with us and chatted about his upcoming vacation in Brazil and various other things.

The restaurant is featured in a lovely book about Umbrian food that would be worth investigating:


www.appetiteforumbria.com

We will have to put this restaurant on our list of places to return for our time here was short due to the train schedules. By this time we had decided to take the 2pm train back to Rome rather than waiting until the 4pm train so we only had time for one course each. I had the spaghetti with truffles that I had been longing for. My long-suffering partner chose the cut pasta with a sauce of cinghiale, wild boar which I don't think is actually wild but that is another issue. (That sold in the US is certainly farmed) Both were excellent. Ciro tried mightily to get us to change our minds and stay for what promised to be a delicious guinea hen dish but with great difficulty, we tore ourselves away and rushed back to the Duomo to catch the bus and head back to Rome. I apolozige that, after all that agonizing, this is not much of a review of Trattoria dell Orso but suffice to say I would not have any trouble recommending this outpost of regional cuisine to anyone heading for Orvieto. Someday I will get to that faraone and whatever else Gabriele is cooking that day.

Cost: 2 pastas, wine, water, cover, coffee...33 Euro.
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Old Jan 26th, 2007, 07:20 AM
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I forgot to write that the pasta with cinghiale sauce was excellent.

After lunch we scurried back to the station via bus and cable car and took the 2pm train back to Rome. When you exit Termini station, you will find many buses waiting in the piazza in front of you. We bought bus tickets inside the station (1 euro; good for transfer) and hopped on a #64 bus which took us to Largo Argentina in just a few minutes.

Largo Argentina is the site of a vast Sacred area filled with the largest expanse of fully excavated Republican ruins in Rome. It was discovered during the 1920s when the area was being cleared for a residential building project. Visible today are the remains of four temples as well as a 12th Century church built on the site whose walls bear beautiful frescoes. According to what we were told by our guide, this is the actual site of Julius Caesar's assassination. Largo Argentina today is the site of Rome's most famous animal sanctuary and its denizens..hundreds of cats, prowl the ruins and the grassy areas around them.

The story of Rome's abandoned cats is a sad one and tremndous credit goes to the people responsible for founding and running the shelter which sits at the bottom of the steps at the corner of Via del Torre Argentina and Via Florida. Free tours of the ruins begin from this point at 4pm daily and culminate with a visit to the sanctuary, where a donation is suggested.

For more information, see the web site:

www.romancats.com


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Old Jan 26th, 2007, 08:04 AM
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I regret that we didn't go see the cats at Torre Largo Argentina (except from a distance)...it was a case of it being "too close to home." We were staying nearby, so we always passed by early in the morning or late at night.
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Old Jan 26th, 2007, 10:09 AM
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Some of the cats at the Largo Argentina are "adoptable from a distance".

We have "adopted" Alcatraz, a beautiful, friendly kitty and stop in to visit him each trip.

You can also adopt one in reality and bring it home with you if you wish.
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Old Jan 26th, 2007, 12:36 PM
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!!! We are paying 340 EUR in September at the Albergo del Senato for a superior double overlooking the Pantheon. But, everyone who has stayed there seems to love the hotel, so I am hoping it's worth it! Our other option was the Eden, which we were getting a good deal on for 348 EUR..but people seemed to have very negative reviews.

Ekscrunchy, thank you so much for your posts. I look forward to logging in every day to read about your adventures and all the great things (and great food) that are in store for me in September.
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Old Jan 26th, 2007, 12:46 PM
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greene, you're not the only one who has noticed the wild fluctuations in the Senato's prices. We paid 310 Euro per night for room 603 during Christmas week but I just saw on Trip Advisor that someone stayed on the 6th floor w/Pantheon view the week before for only 160 Euro per night, and ekscrunchy had our room for 225 Euro in January. Timing is everything??

It was still worth every penny!!
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Old Jan 26th, 2007, 12:50 PM
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Greene, that is really really expensive. I think the location is far better than the Eden, that is for certain.

Iluvitaly, I commend you for doing such a good deed. We went downstairs into the shelter after our tour and met a few of the feline residents who for various reasons (not acclimated; sickness or injury, etc) remain inside rather than out among the ruins. The sickening thing is that one of the cats outside was recently kidnapped with a snare around its neck by a band of beggars, according to the notice on the fences outside. The place really brings me to tears. Donations are requested and we complied but you obviously went a lot further.
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Old Jan 26th, 2007, 12:53 PM
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Love the report!
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